The Benefits of Infant Massage
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By: Marie-Josee Berard, President Infant Massage Institute, Inc.
Birth can be a traumatic event for the baby. From being comfortably inside the womb it suddenly is outside into the world, quickly adjusting to everything around it. The baby’s senses are overpowered by temperature, lighting, noise, and the need to feed from a new source. It immediately seeks attention and nurture. The parent and caregivers are here to help welcome it and help provide everything it needs to make it feel safe and comfortable.
Touch and infant massage can help create such an impact in easing the baby into its new environment and can provide a crucial bonding tool with the child and its biological progress. Infant massage’s greatest bene t is the bonding between mom, dad, caregiver, siblings, and the baby. Parenting research shows that a strong emotional attachment between a caregiver and the baby helps assist the prevention of diseases, boosts immunity, and enhance a child’s IQ. Infant massage also allows the baby to sleep better, cry less, reduce colic and much more.
Massage involves four of the ve senses. The more sensorial interaction and stimulation we can provide for the baby, the more it feels connected and bonded while developing brain functions. The act of touching your baby is not just a feeling on their skin or muscles. You see each other and gaze into each other’s eyes. Fill their vision with a smiling face. You smell each other. The distinct smell of a mother and the skin and breath of a baby brings comfort and security. You hear the sounds of each other, the hums, the tone of voice, the happy sounds of cooing, sweet words and soothing music that touch the center of each of us in a calm and centering way. The baby can feel the energy and emotion we experience, so it is important to pause and take several deep breaths and a few minutes of relaxation before starting infant massage.
When to massage?
For relaxation, massage is good once a day. A massage after a bath is usually a good time. Look for cues from your baby. Do not massage an infant when there are signs of distress or if distress begins to develop as you proceed. Infant massage is also an excellent way to calm and relax your baby just before bedtime. For easing colic, wait 30-60 minutes after eating to begin a massage. Another opportunity is to perform a massage in addition to a diaper change while at the changing table. It’s important to never massage a baby that is ill or has a fever, and avoid massaging a baby who seems to be under stress. These are indications of more serious conditions that may require medical attention. Seek the advice of a medical professional.
Should I use a massage oil to massage my baby?
A baby’s skin is extremely delicate. Do not use nut oils, harsh chemicals or petroleum byproducts, such as mineral oil or commercial baby oils. Vegetable oil, avocado oil or olive oil are all too rich for the fragile skin of your baby, as well. They are not recommended. Powder should not be used either. For a new baby, the parent’s naturally occurring scent is very important, it is part of the bonding. Therefore, it is suggested that you use a massage oil without fragrance, permitting bonding to proceed naturally. Grapeseed oil is an excellent odorless choice. It contains many antioxidants, vitamin E and linoleic acid (a fatty acid that is valuable for the growth and development of the infant). It has a smooth, silky texture without being greasy. It is an outstanding moisturizer and nourishes the skin.
Can you fit massaging your infant into your life?
How much time is lost by delayed bedtime, night waking, prolonged crying and schedule disruptions every day? If you spend as few as 10 minutes massaging most days, you can save hours of stress and worry in your family.
Marie-Josee Berard is a Licensed Massage Therapist with over 25 years of experience. Ms. Berard is approved by the Board of Florida Massage Therapy and is an Infant Massage Continuing Educational Provider. For more information on infant massage visit www.babywellnessmassage.com
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